Baylor Mourns Passing of Longtime Dining Services Staff Member

Jackie Birdwell
From the Baylor Lariat, Oct. 12, 2012: Jackie Birdwell, a Baylor Student Union Building employee of 47 years, stands in his work environment as students purchase lunch. (Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor)
April 7, 2014

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

WACO, Texas (April 7, 2014) -- Baylor University is mourning the passing of longtime Baylor Dining Services staff member Jackie Birdwell. Birdwell, who worked in the SUB for nearly 50 years, died March 31 at the age of 65.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, 1300 Columbus Ave., Waco, with Dr. Jack Kyle Daniels officiating.

(Read more about Jackie Birdwell in this Lariat story from October 2012: https://baylorlariat.com/2012/10/12/birdwell-shares-his-story-after-47-years-of-dedication-to-baylor/.)

“We are very saddened by Jackie’s passing,” said Brett Perlowski, director of dining services for ARAMARK at Baylor. “He was a fixture at the SUB and a friend to many that have passed through Baylor over the years. Our team considered him a part of our family and for many years went the extra mile to help look after him. His commitment to the university and its students was never wavering and he will be sorely missed.”

Jackie was born May 30, 1948, in Texarkana. In 1953 at the age of five, he and his younger brother Jerry were admitted to the Methodist Home in Waco. Jackie was the first “Home kid” to be enrolled in a special education program. He began working at Baylor when he was still a student at Waco’s University High School.

Upon graduation from University High in 1967, he left the Home and went to work full time at Baylor. During his almost 50 years of service to Baylor, Jackie received various awards, including Employee of the Year for the Texas ARC in 1976, Outstanding Handicapped Wacoan in 1978 and the Methodist Home Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1984.

In 2005, he was presented with the university’s W.R. White Meritorious Service Award. That award stated in part: “During the last four decades at Baylor, a lot has changed, but Jackie Birdwell has been one thing that has remained constant. As a food service employee since 1964, Birdwell has offered more than just nourishment to generations of Baylor students in the student center. He has also offered a smile, a steady presence, and a kind and generous spirit.”

Jackie was a faithful member of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, singing in the choir and attending the single adult class.

He was preceded in death by his parents and is survived by his brother, Jerry; sister, Joan Williams; and two nephews, Todd and Tanner Birdwell.

Memorial contributions can be made to: Methodist Children’s Home, 1111 Herring Ave., Waco, TX, 76708; Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, 1308 Columbus Ave., Waco, TX 76701; or a favorite charity.

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